Ella Poston, Cello: 2022 Senior Spotlight

Ella Poston, cello
BFA St. Albans

VT Youth Orchestra – 1 year
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years
VT Youth Strings – 1 year












Working with Ella as she has progressed through our orchestras exemplifies what we love about working with students over the course of several years, watching them grow musically and personally through their own determination and hard work. All students come in to VYS pretty nervous but with the support of VYO mentor, Madeline Daly, Ella settled in and has left her own mark during her time with the VYOA. Her tenacity and perseverance has been an inspiration to us all.

Why do you like your instrument & how did you choose it?

The cello actually wasn’t my first choice. Along with everyone else in my school, some music classes were required. In 4th grade, I got to choose whether I wanted to continue music classes or do something else. I chose to play the violin, mainly because I was a fan of Lindsey Sterling and wanted to become a star like her. It didn’t work out, and I was eventually kicked out of the orchestra because I never participated in concerts and never practiced. It wasn’t my right instrument, and my teacher could see that. In 5th grade, he emailed my parents and asked if I would be willing to play the cello instead, and I was instantly in love. I’m not exactly sure why it clicked for me. Violin never made sense to me, but when I played the cello, everything just fell right into place.

What has been your biggest musical challenge & how did you overcome it?

Well, my biggest challenge with music is something that I have been asked about before, but it seems like I am the only one who experiences it. I have come a long way in just 4 years, but what I struggle with is depression. It has turned my life upside-down, and I become unmotivated and unwilling to practice my instrument. I am the only one who plays my instrument seriously in my family, so it was a real letdown when my practicing started to decline. I am trying to get better at picking up my cello, but it’s been starting to feel more like a chore than for pleasure. It’s not something I like to admit but it’s a challenge I have yet to overcome.

What is your favorite VYOA memory?

I have both bad and good memories of the VYOA, but I think the one I remember the most was when I first got into the VYS. I was older than most of the kids there, but I was also the most inexperienced with the whole system since it was so new to me. I remember feeling like I didn’t belong, and that I was just letting everyone down, but my favorite part was that I never gave up. It’s been nearly four years now, and though my time in the organization wasn’t glamorous, it was still a part of my journey. And I am grateful for that.

What was your favorite concert as a performer with the VYOA?

I don’t know exactly when it was, but I think it was during the OrchestraPalooza of 2019. I was in the VYP, and we were playing Phantom of the Opera. Near the end of the song, my scream erupted through the Flynn, bouncing off walls and making people jump. A few months prior, there was a very hectic and loud audition that took place during one rehearsal, with people screaming. I knew mine was good, but I didn’t think it was THAT good. I screamed, and I was instantly chosen for the solo. Every rehearsal after that, the other people in my section and sometimes other sections would ask me if I was going to do “the scream” that time. I am introverted, so letting so many people hear me roar that night was pure ecstasy. No one really remembers it was me, and I am fine with that, but it feels good to hear praise even today when people talk about the cello girl who screamed.

Oliver Rousseau, Cello: 2022 Senior Spotlight

Oliver Rousseau, cello

VT Youth Orchestra – 2 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years

Cellist Oliver Rousseau comes from a family VT Youth Orchestra Association alums that includes both his father and his sister. He’s been a wonderful member of the VYOA community, he’s always there when you need him!

Why do you like your instrument & how did you choose it?

It’s pretty simple actually. My sister played Violin, so of course I had to play Cello instead, because we all know it’s the superior instrument… Just kidding! I love the Cello because of its versatility, rich tone and expressiveness. Also Yo Yo Ma and The Piano Guys.

What has been your biggest musical challenge & how did you overcome it?

When I was 13, there was a period where I kinda wanted to quit the Cello. As an early adolescent, I was just starting to find other things I was interested in, and for a while music kind of took a back seat for me. My progress slowed and I didn’t practice as much as I should have. What saved me from this dark and treacherous path? Actually it was VYOA that rekindled my interest in music, and helped me progress to where I am today. When my sister first recommended orchestra to me, I was reluctant to audition at first, but then I saw some friends of mine were in it, so I decided to give it a go. And boy, am I glad that I did! These past few years in VYOA have been amazing, and at times truly special. Okay, I admit I’m being a little bit melodramatic on purpose, but honestly thank you to everyone who helped bring music back into my life.

What college or university do you plan/hope to attend next year?

University of Vermont (UVM), though I may later transfer to Dartmouth at some point. While I haven’t officially declared my major yet, I’m currently leaning towards Anthropology. I’ve actually already been taking college classes since I was fifteen, first through Dual-Enrollment, then full time Early College at CCV, so I came to this decision pretty much just by trying stuff until I found what I liked. For a while I even wanted to be a Lawyer, until I finally figured out that Matt Murdock is fictional. My current plan is to go for a PhD in Anthropology, and then become a College Professor. I’ve always been interested in world cultures, particularly when it comes to language and religion, so I think Anthropology is a good fit for me.

Elizabeth Messier, Viola: 2022 Senior Spotlight

Photo by Keith MacDonald

Elizabeth Messier, viola
Essex High School

VT Youth Orchestra – 5 years
VT Youth Philharmonia – 2 years
VT Youth Strings – 2 years


We are excited to start off our Class of 2022 Senior Spotlight series with violist Elizabeth Messier! Elizabeth has been with the VYOA since fourth grade when she auditioned into VT Youth Strings after participating in Music Day Camp (now Summer Symphony Camp). Always conscientious and responsible, we could always count on her to come in and mentor our younger string students; she inspired other students to work hard by leading by example. Elizabeth is one of our four Senior Soloists this season and will be performing Bruch’s Romanze for Viola and Orchestra on the VYO Concert, Something Suite, on February 13 at 3pm at the Flynn Center for Performing Arts.

Why do you like your instrument & how did you choose it?
I love the viola because of its dark, rich tone. It’s an extremely versatile instrument, capable of reaching both high and low notes, and is the perfect mix of the violin and cello. Prior to hearing a viola in concert, I was unsure about what other instrument I wanted to play (I already played piano), but after I heard the beautiful sound of the viola, I knew it would be the perfect instrument for me.

What role does music play in your life?
Music has played a huge role in my life. It has opened up so many doors for me and connected with me with an amazing community of people both inside and outside of Vermont. Music can be taken in so many different directions, and one of my favorite things about being a musician is sharing my passion for music with others and watching the impact music has on others. After graduating, I hope to continue exploring new ways to use music to form connections and advocating for the importance of music education.

What was your favorite concert as a performer with the VYOA?
My favorite concert as a performer with the VYOA was the final performance of the 2017-2018 season, where the VYO performed Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in its entirety. That was the first time I had played a full symphony, and after working on each movement individually throughout the season, it was an extremely gratifying experience to play the complete work. As an eighth grader in my first season in VYO, I was grateful to have the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of a prominent orchestral work, and that season really set the tone for the rest of my time in the VYOA.

Senior Spotlight: Soloist Justin Lee

Dr. Mark Alpízar chats with senior soloist Justin Lee, VYOA Concertmaster, about playing violin and his musical plans for the future. See Justin perform his solo at our February 13 concert at The Flynn, Something Suite. Tickets available at flynnvt.org

Senior Spotlight: Soloist Elizabeth Messier

Dr. Mark Alpízar chats with senior soloist Elizabeth Messier, principal violist, about playing viola and her musical plans for the future. See Elizabeth perform her solo at our February 13 concert at The Flynn, Something Suite. Tickets available at flynnvt.org